Why Isn’t ASL Allowed in the IB Program?

Claire Lawrence, Reporter

As you may know, if you’re an eighth grader going to Westwood this year, ASL, (American Sign Language) is offered as a foreign language class. For many, the implied quiet atmosphere and the usefulness of the ‘language’. To learn ASL, it is just about hard as any other language, although you don’t learn a new way to say something, you just memorize signs. However, as I learned whilst filling out my choice sheet, the IB program is not offered to students who take ASL, only to students who learn a verbal international language.

The premise of IB is that they are fitting 5 years of school education into 4 years in order to “catch up” with international schools, which have different systems that usually end up with their students a year ahead of Americans. The program gives students an “IB Diploma” if completed that verifies that the student is caught up. Although the program is made for students who want to go international, most people who take IB just want a more challenging a fast-paced high-school experience.

With this being said, the main reason that ASL is not offered in IB is that is American sign language. Technically it is not an international language, although general signs are used in most countries, just not individual letters, say if you were spelling your name. Although this is true, you couldn’t go to school in Spain if you only know sign language and not Spanish, the system is flawed. As I said, maybe 1% or less IB students will actually go out of the country for college. Most people do the IB program for colleges to see their scholarly dedication and their extensive education. (A kid with 5 years of knowledge in 4 years of high school is more likely to be chosen than the same kid but with 4 years of knowledge in 4 years)

The system is very flawed, especially because ASL is mostly just as hard as any other foreign language. It would make sense if they let people take ASL and made them sign a form saying they are not eligible for international schooling. However, I’d say that if you are interested in ASL, go for it! IB is a good program, but it is definitely not better than the other ones and you are not any less of a student for going on a different pathway.